I wanted to write about some of the mistakes I made during the kickstarter, and also write about some of the things I think I did well. Hopefully, by writing about these, anyone who is about to launch a kickstarter can learn from my mistakes, and also repeat my successes. By writing this, there is small chance that I may get to learn from my mistakes too ;)
1) Assuming I’d be the exception to the rule
If you assume (like I did) that you will be the exception to the rule, you will may feel totally unprepared if a strong launch doesn’t happen (like I was).
A better approach is to expect the best BUT prepare for the worst.
What if you slip into obscurity? What will you do then? Spending time thinking about these harder questions is a much better use of your time then thinking about what message you will write after you hit your 25th stretch goal.
2) I didn’t have a demo
A lot of the successful indie kickstarters are from previously successful indie developers, or developers with status in the industry. Why? The reason why is that backers like to back people with CREDIBILITY. For unknown developers such as myself, one of the ways that you can help to build credibility is by providing a demo. I didn’t (for this reason) but I know excluding one harmed my project’s success. Lots of people won’t even play a demo, but it just reassuring to backers to know that one is out and available.
3) I didn’t make shareable content
If you are lucky, your campaign will have organic growth - when people mention it to other people, who in turn mention it to other people etc. One way that you can encourage this to happen is to make your content easy to share. There are two parts to this:
1) Having tons of share links and creating content that is good at explaining your game.
2) Creating visually appealing content.
I’m really weak artistically, therefore I am especially bad at that second item. Let me give you an example:
The image on the left was the one I used in my campaign. Two weeks in, I redesigned it, creating the image on the right. Which one is more shareable? It’s obvious right?
I also didn’t have any downloadable videos. Why this was such a schlep is because it meant that I couldn’t write to / get involved with any groups that post videos about new kickstarters/indiegames etc. Seeing as video is one of the most popular ways to consume media, not having downloadable videos is (in my opinion) a death sentence.
What I Did Right
1) I believed it wasn’t over til it was over
Not long after realizing I wouldn’t be the exception to the rule, I had the realization if that things continued as they did, I wouldn't hit my goal. This realization was about as pleasant as a swift kick to the testicles.
2) I had lots of gifs / links
Before I launched my campaign, I browsed through lots of other kickstarters (successful and not). Without exception, all the successful kickstarters have a ton of visuals. What you’ll also notice is that successful campaigns generally avoid big chunks of text, instead they break it up with pictures. This makes the whole kickstarter more approachable and visually appealing - I can’t stress how important it is.
I’ve been on a few kickstarters and it is difficult to find out more about the game than is provided on the kickstarter page - why? Because they don’t provide links to other sites/pages that may be of interest. I think I did a good job of posting links to my blog/twitter account/etc, and what that meant is that people who wanted to find out more about the game, its creator, or its development could do so if they chose. This is another way that you can build credibility (which I mentioned before is so important).
3) I got back to people
I think for the most part, I could be depended upon to get back to any/all backers who had any questions or comments - heck, if backers decided to invest in you, so how can you not invest back in them? Treat your backers well, it will help you build an awesome community plus you’ll meet some really cool people in the process.
And that’s it for the breakdown! I hope it helps a bunch of people.
A special thanks to Lincoln who suggested I do a kickstarter post-mortem.
Also, in other news, I’ve started dedicating whatever time I can to the game’s continued development, and looks like the game might be getting some music soon :) I’ll keep you guys up to date, and let you know how that goes.
Follow the game's development on twitter (@FMMHenchmen), on facebook, or follow me on twitter @BlakeMcDeezy